Local RCMP officers are continuing to zero in on organized crime in the City.
Most recently, last month, the RCMP made the arrest of an alleged gang member of the Red Scorpions, a gang who the RCMP had their first confirmed file dealings with in Red Deer in 2013.
The recent investigation focused on the Red Scorpions drug trafficking operation and their infiltration of the Alberta market, police officials have said. The Red Scorpions originated in B.C.
Cory James Lesperance, a 29-year-old man originally from B.C., is an alleged member of the Red Scorpions and is alleged to be at the centre of a drug trafficking network operating in Alberta, police have said. Lesperance faces a total of 14 drug and weapons related charges.
Lesperance was arrested at a residence in the Balmoral Heights neighbourhood just outside Red Deer city limits last month, where two firearms were found, along with a large amount of drugs.
Police have previously said he is also bound by two firearm prohibitions and a recognizance order stemming from a previous drug and weapons investigation in November 2013.
Three others were also arrested in the search warrants including Robin Joseph Stewart, 52, who faces eight charges; Nicholas David James White, 21, faces six charges and Amber McLeod, 23, faces four charges.
In addition to the Red Deer County home, search warrants were executed at a Calgary home and residence in Airdrie. The search warrants were executed by RCMP “K” Division Emergency Response Team and CPS Tactical team.
The search warrants yielded a number of firearms and drugs, including 512 grams of methamphetamine; 517 grams of cocaine; 52 grams of heroin; 264 grams of marijuana, 80 grams of psilocybin, 13 vials equaling 130 milliliters of anabolic steroids, a cocaine conversion lab, scales, packaging, and other drug paraphernalia, a loaded semi-automatic handgun, a stolen shotgun with ammunition, three replica handguns, $8,955 in cash and two vehicles.
Police say the investigation was initiated in June by the Red Deer RCMP Street Team and expedited between the partnering agencies to address public safety concerns relating to gang activity.
Lesperance and Stewart have recently had their cases moved to an Edmonton court.
Const. Josh Matthies, with the criminal intelligence unit of the general investigation section of the Red Deer RCMP, said at the time of their first dealings with the Red Scorpions in 2013, there were only two alleged members of the gang in the City.
“We don’t necessarily know their motivating factor (in coming to Red Deer), but through various sources of information we have come to the belief that they came here because it’s a central location in Alberta and there was a lot of gang enforcement going on in B.C. at the time,” he said. “I think it was seen that they were going to move this way to expand their market.”
Sandra Bibby, criminal intelligence analyst for the Red Deer RCMP said gangs see Red Deer as an opportunity because of its central location within Alberta.
“Gangs are like businesses too. Red Deer is a great place to set up a business. It’s 90 minutes from two of the major cities in Alberta. We are the third biggest city in Alberta and we have anything that you need – we have an airport and anything you want,” she said. “Red Deer is growing as a city and with cities come large businesses and come other issues too – we have economic issues here, we have social issues and we have criminal issues.”
In addition, Matthies said there is a variety of drugs that RCMP are seeing within the City, but one of the more recent drugs that is gaining momentum is heroin.
“We’ve always had a lot of cocaine and crack cocaine and methamphetamine is big right now as well and marijuana has always been around,” he said. “The drug that we have noticed just within the last two years is heroin coming here. It is with the change of oxycontin to oxyneo. That’s the biggest change and trend.”
Members of the public who have concern about gang activity in their community can contact police or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).